Friday, March 28, 2014 | 2 a.m.
Rashad Vaughn had enough opportunities to see UNLV basketball up close that the program’s poor finish — no postseason for the first time in eight years — wasn’t going to sour him.
The Findlay Prep guard was on hand for several home games both before and after he chose the Rebels over the likes of Iowa State, Baylor and North Carolina. And even though he hasn’t yet signed a letter of intent and could still choose to go elsewhere, he said he’s as committed to the program as the day he put on a Rebels hat.
“Me and coach (Dave) Rice have a great relationship,” Vaughn said Thursday. “Even though the team was struggling I still went to a lot of games. I see a lot of potential in them, they just didn’t really have a leader to step up and take control.
“At the end of the day I’m ready to get there and play with Goodluck (Okonoboh) and Dwayne (Morgan) and get it going.”
Vaughn was talking to reporters at the McDonald’s on Eastern Avenue and St. Rose Parkway in Henderson. Next Wednesday, Vaughn and Findlay Prep teammate Kelly Oubre will play in the McDonald’s All-American game in Chicago’s United Center.
Vaughn and Oubre, who has signed to play at Kansas, are the seventh and eighth Pilots selected for the game over the past six seasons.
It’s going to be a busy week for the guard duo. The McDonald’s skills competitions are on Tuesday — Vaughn said he wants to do the 3-point contest while Oubre might be in the dunk contest — and then the game is on Wednesday. It’s still considered one of the most prestigious honors available for high school players.
“Being a McDonald’s All-American is something I’ve been dreaming of my whole life,” Vaughn said.
Then on Thursday morning those two will fly from Chicago to New York City to meet the rest of the team for Findlay Prep’s first game Thursday at 4 p.m. in the Dick’s Sporting Good National High School Tournament. It’s short rest for Vaughn and Oubre as they try to help the banged-up Pilots win another national title, but there’s no way either guy would miss either event.
Not only is making the McDonald’s All-American game an honor in its own right, but Vaughn knows the spotlight now can help him beyond his collegiate career.
“I look at it as an opportunity to solidify yourself with the NBA scouts,” Vaughn said. “I’m going to go there and take care of business.”
Another thing that will help him get to the next level is a solid freshman season at UNLV. The trio of Vaughn, Okonoboh and Morgan form arguably the best recruiting class in UNLV history. And that doesn’t even include Cody Doolin, a point guard expected to transfer from San Francisco, or the other inevitable pieces the coaching staff will add once guys like juniors Khem Birch and Roscoe Smith decide to stay or leave.
All three of the incoming recruits had at least some relationship with former associate head coach Heath Schroyer, who recently left to take over at UT Martin. Morgan was especially close to Schroyer after years of recruitment. But according to Vaughn, Schroyer’s departure didn’t bring up much second-guessing amongst the group.
They all talk to each other, including Doolin, and the topic is generally how soon they can get to campus and start working together.
“It was a good opportunity for him to take a head-coaching position,” Vaughn said. “It didn’t really change anything because we all really came for Coach Rice and each other.”